Asian Amateur Championship - the course

Jeremy Ellwood ventures out onto the New course at Singapore Island Country Club to get a feel for the test ahead in this week's Asian Amateur Championship

4th hole on Singapore Island CC New course

I'm told there were thunderstorms in Singapore last night, but I must have been pretty tired as I slept right through them.

It would make sense though, as the sun finally broke through the haze this morning, making it both hot and sticky out on the Singapore Island Country Club New course for my pre-tournament ‘recce ahead of tomorrow's Asian Amateur Championship.

But how was it for the Asian Amateur competitors, many of whom must be used to such conditions? I actually got a mixed response. Brad James, one of the Australian coaches, told me his players were used to the temperature, but not the humidity. Nasser Yacoob smiled broadly and told me this would just be a pleasant day back in his native Bahrain; and 15-year-old 2-handicapper Niko Vui from Samoa, where there are just 3 golf courses, told me they didn't have humidity like this back home and that his shirt was wringing wet as he made the final climb up 18.

Enough of the conditions - what of the test that the immaculately presented New course will pose the Asian Amateur combatants? Well, it's pretty up and down with a number of raised tees and elevated greens and almost links-like undulations on some fairways.

Brad told me that the rough was pretty thick and lost balls were a possibility in places, while Niko emphasised that accuracy was more important than distance even with nearly 7,200 yards to negotiate. The 4th looked a fearsome long par 3 playing across a gully to a green some 224 yards distant, and few found the putting surface while I watched.

The two nines end with side-by-side par 5s, with the 18th fittingly the tougher of the two, playing some 40 yards longer and with a steeper final climb. My legs were certainly feeling it by then, but I found a bit of a kick finish when I spotted a ‘Beware of Snakes' sign to the side of the fairway.

I guess anyone in with a shout of landing golf's third Asian Amateur Championship will still have a spring in his step up 18 come Sunday afternoon though, even after four rounds over this demanding layout. Niko told me his dream was to make the cut this week... and then go on to become the first Samoan to win the Masters one day. I look forward to following his progress towards phase one of that dream when he tees off at 11.39 tomorrow morning in the Asian Amateur Championship.

Jeremy Ellwood
Contributing Editor

Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly. He is an expert on the Rules of Golf having qualified through an R&A course to become a golf referee. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played 1,000 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts. He reached the 1,000 mark on his 60th birthday in October 2023 on Vale do Lobo's Ocean course. Put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.

Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf

Jeremy is currently playing...

Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft

3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft

Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft

Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)

Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response